Key takeaways from Klareco Insights: The Road Ahead for Indonesia in an Endemic COVID-19 World
As we approach the end of 2021, everyone wearily hopes that the COVID-19 pandemic will be over soon. This year had not been the recovery that many anticipated. The Delta variant, which caused a spike in infected cases in Indonesia to more than 50,000 each day between June and July 2021, disrupted the country’s recovery. The emergency public activity restriction (PPKM Darurat) imposed by the government across the country greatly affected businesses and the economy.
However, the hope we had at the start of the year has begun to manifest itself over the past two months. Conditions in Indonesia have gradually improved since September, owing to the successful rollout of the national COVID-19 vaccination program. As a result, the status of public activity restriction (PPKM), which was previously classified as an emergency, have been downgraded to level 1 in several major cities.
In light of the return of a semblance of normalcy for social and economic activities, Klareco Communications had three key takeaways from our recently concluded Insights session that featured three panellists who are experts in their fields, Dr. Marsen Isbayuputra, Sp.OK from the Faculty of Medicine, University of Indonesia, Sinta Setyaningsih – Vice President of Public Affairs OVO, and Gupta Sitorus- co-founder of Museum Boga (Indonesia’s first culinary museum).
Indonesia is already living in an endemic state
The sense of normalcy has become relative since the outbreak of the pandemic. From a public health perspective. Indonesia, with its implementation of health protocols, relatively low rate of daily infections, vaccination and hospitalisation rate, can be deemed has having entered the endemic state. The virus will not be eliminated completely, and the population will have to learn to co-exist with it.
Existing health protocols in Indonesia are strong enough to protect the people but adherence to these health protocols remains a problem especially in places outside of major cities. Another space to watch is the emergence of new infectious variants that might cause spikes in infections again. The COVID-19 virus has proved to be effective in mutating itself to spread across the world. Barring the emergence of new variants and with the continued implementation of health protocols, Indonesia should find itself in a good position to maintain the recovery momentum into the new year.
COVID-19 was the “Chief Transformation Officer” for the economy and businesses
“In an analogy, if an organization were a virus, the COVID-19 virus would be a Chief Transformation Officer with global responsibilities. Unknowingly, the COVID-19 pandemic transformed everything,” shared Sinta Setyaningsih, Vice President Public Affairs OVO.
COVID-19 has affected businesses greatly. Some have suffered more than others. Indonesia’s creative industry, which contributes 7.24 percent to the country’s gross domestic product (GDP), have been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Three industries have been significantly impacted by the Pandemic: Fine Arts & Performance, Design & Advertising, and Craft. Businesses in the creative sector found themselves having to adapt in a variety of ways, including the way events are organised.
Gupta Sitorus, co-founder of Museum Boga, shared that creative industry players proved their capacity for adaptation and innovation in their businesses. The trauma compelled players in the industry to digitise and reconsider the industry’s long-term adaptability and sustainability. However, the efforts to adapt and digitise have also revealed the shortcomings of the current system. There is an urgent need for better infrastructure and access to financing options to ensure that businesses can transform. The future of the creative industry, and by extension the country’s economy, depends on the collective effort of business owners, the ecosystem, and the government.
Transiting from crisis aversion to future-proof
The transition from a pandemic to an endemic state also has an impact of the government’s outlook and priorities. When dealing with the impact of the pandemic at the height of the public health crisis, the government’s core focus was to manage the crisis and to bring it under control. It was risk averse, keen to ensure that existing crisis does not worsen and no new crisis emerge.
As the pandemic comes under control, the government has shifted its priorities to reflect the endemic state that the country is in. Government decision making has become more principle-based and towards future proofing.
The Road Ahead for Indonesia in an Endemic COVID-19 World
The trauma of COVID-19 has left deep scars not only in Indonesia but also throughout the world. However, Indonesia is poised to recover as long as new variants do not emerge to knock the country off its recovery path. The business transformation and adaptations that have been set in motion by the pandemic will continue even after the pandemic is over. Businesses that survived the pandemic will become stronger as we emerge together towards the next normal.